25 May 2018

Uganda: Govt to Spend Shs960m to Burn Drugs

Kampala — The government has authorised the National Drug Authority (NDA) to spend Shs960m to destroy 1,500 metric tons of expired human and veterinary medicines, Daily Monitor has learnt.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng gave a nod after NDA board chairman, Dr Medard Bitekyerezo, on March 28, 2018 sought authorisation for the agency to re-allocate money from its 2017/18 budget to incinerate pharmaceutical waste from public, private and private-not-for-profit health facilities.

"This is to inform you that authority (to re-allocate funds) has been granted. Ministry of Health will require a comprehensive report on the exercise undertaken," Ms Aceng wrote.

The current financial year ends in the next five weeks.

Officials said the expired drugs accumulated over six years and they are appealing to any individual or facility with a stock to surrender it to the respective district health officer (DHO).

Neither NDA nor the Health ministry has provided a break-down of the budget, the type and quantities and value of medicines to be destroyed or stock distribution by region.

There is also no explanation why drugs continue to expire in a country that registers perennial medicines stock-outs at government hospitals.

Dr Bitekyerezo said gathering pharmaceutical wastes from all parts of the country, transporting and burning them centrally in Nakasongola District will be their corporate social responsibility activity.

The authority's executive secretary, Ms Donna Kusemererwa, said destroying the drugs is justified because it protects the public from pharmaceutical waste.

Each health facility is ordinarily supposed to inform the DHO in writing and pay a fee to National Medical Stores (NMS) to withdraw and incinerate expired drugs.

Kasambya MP Gafa Mbwatekamwa, who sits on House Health committee, questioned the expenditure.

He wondered how drugs get expired when patients are being turned away because of lack of supplies.

Mr Dan Kimosho, the NMS spokesperson, said although they supply drugs on request, mismanagement can result in expired stock alongside cases where anticipated epidemics do not break out.

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